Exploring Your Own Backyard

Exploring Your Own Backyard

How much exploring do you do? As in, really do? On the way to or from your usual destinations, do you ever vary the route? Or, is the route a rut with high sides that you do not look beyond?

Just like many of you, I too fall prey to getting stuck in ruts at times. Perhaps less so now than at other points in my life, but it does happen.  Even when we vary our path, we have our favorite little ‘excursions’ we take that, themselves, are simply more ruts. Just not as deep.  Reflecting on this I want to encourage you to get out of your ruts. Explore. Truly explore. Do something you would never do as part of a routine.

This past year I have done more ‘true’ exploration than I have in years. There are a host of reasons why but what is important is that I started.  And, what I have found, just lying about my ‘backyard’ has amazed me at times.

So, to start, consider this following image.

Highland State Recreational Area, Highland, Michigan (USA), by JT Pedersen, Torben Photography.

Yes, I knew it was there, a rather plain looking state park sign.  After nearly a decade of driving past it,  I decided to specifically go take a look. Driving through its sleepy entrance (without anyone ever at the check-in gate I’ve since found) I found a long, winding road with plenty of turn-offs to explore. All the way to the end of the road, one finds a rather isolated just-as-sleepy looking lake with beach and picnic area on one side.

I went back with my son recently to take pictures as the sun set. We did battle with mosquitos and humidity. Threw rocks in the water (terrible selection of stones for skipping). Wasn’t sure what I might find to photograph. Returning home to study the pictures, I was very pleased with this purplish gem. A gem I would have never known existed, but for traveling down the road less traveled.


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAnn Arbor is one of my favorite cities.  For the past 20 years or so, I have wandered about for work and play. One would think, after 20 years, I’d pretty much have the place locked down.  Yet, slowly trolling through town after an early-morning shoot, I happened across this entry way.

Funny thing is, I’ve driven past this ~90 year old building numerous times, admiring it every time. Not until I slowed-down did I note this entry. More significant, what was beyond the entry.

I thank Kimmee, a new freshman walking by, for volunteering to be part of the adventure:)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWalking through the building I was pleasantly surprised to discover a quiet courtyard, surrounded by more sights than I had time to fully explore.

Looking over my shoulder, I found a spire backed by a beautiful blue sky; nary a cloud to be seen.

Facing front again, I discovered the morning sun, starting its trek through the morning sky, glowing pleasantly through the hall, from one side to the other.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

With a smile, I realized that all four of these images were of places in my own backyard, a 20+ year-old backyard, discovered just the past 4 weeks.

Incredibly, this season has had a number of discoveries like these, uncovered by virtue of having felt like doing a little bit of exploration.

So, my suggestion to you…

If you feel like you’re in a rut, your routine has become stale, and you feel like you get away from it all: Park the car, somewhere different; Walk, along new paths, randomly; and, give yourself a chunk of time to do it without feeling guilty, if even only an hour.


What’s in Your Backyard?


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